Thursday, June 26, 2014

Some Disney Photos ...

I realized I didn't post any pictures of our recent trip to Disneyland. I think I did flora at California Adventure, but not Disneyland. As you can see, regardless of where I am, I always end up with pictures of flowers, trees, ducks, and things. We did go on the rides—really!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Witches, Cats ... Cat Witches?

Last week I was sitting in the parking lot of the local post office when I saw a lady walk by me. She looked like a witch. By that, I mean she looked like what you'd suspect a witch to look like. Obviously, she wasn't wearing a pointy, black hat or riding a broomstick, nor was she hideously ugly. She just had this witch-like look to her. It triggered something for me and made me think of a middle grade story I started back in 2011. I decided to open the manuscript up, only to realize I had started writing it on the same exact day, just three years earlier. Talk about weird!

So anyway, now I'm trying to get back into this story. I had about 7,500 words written for the first three chapters. Have you ever tried to pick up on a story from awhile back? Three years is a long time. At least it is for me. Fortunately—and for some strange, unknown reason—I had also written down a full synopsis of the story. I almost never do that. I also had character sketches written down. Hopefully all of that will help me get back into the swing of the story.

Oh, and for the record, there is a lady in the story who some kids think is a witch. I guess It's funny how seeing someone can trigger something else, as the lady at the post office did. The story also features cats. And by that, I mean lots and lots and lots of cats. The picture above is of some kittens my family had when I was a kid. I really hope I can get back into the story and not let another three years go by.

So ... what are you working on right now?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On My Walk ...

I decided to go for a little hike by myself this morning. Don't worry—I brought the bear spray. I just wanted to walk up the hillside that's behind my house. I've been up there a bunch of times, but I was curious how many "steps" it would be on my Fitbit. Turns out, I'd walk 5 steps, and then I'd see a flower, so I'd stop to take pictures. I walked a good distance, but not at any great speed for exercise benefits. Mostly though, I took pictures of wildflowers, trees, and even some weeds like the Orange Hawkweed below. I'm really loving all of the daisies right now!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We just had a visitor ...

This little-big guy just paid us a visit — much to Denny's dismay. It's been raining for two days straight. We are seriously considering building an ark soon. Anyway, I had the feeder on the deck floor by my bedroom door because of the rain. The squirrels have been making such a racket and have been fighting with each other, so there's been quite a bit of noise out there.

A few minutes ago I heard more thumps, although this sounded louder than the others. I turned to look at Denny and he took off like a banshee. Next thing I see is this black bear hopping down from the railing onto the deck. I tapped on the glass and he took off. It's a dead-end near my room, so he either had to go back the way he came up, or go down the deck the long way. He chose the long way and then ran up the hillside. There he stopped at an old tree trunk and tore it to bits looking for food — good bear. It's only 2:30pm, so it's a good reminder that bears are active at ANY time of the day.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Run, Run, Run ...

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of The Gingerbread Man. It's always been a favorite of mine. One year for school the boys and I did a week-long study of the story where we read many different versions. One was about a Gingerbread Baby. Another was about a Canjun Gingerbread Man. We read a bunch of them and did other projects that related to the story. That's when my boys and I came up with the idea for my own book, The Marshmallow Man. It's basically a retelling of the same classic story, except like the others, it features new characters. The ending is just as twisted as most of the others. I'd like to do a sequel sometime.

Anyway, recently I came across these two used picture books. I knew I had to add them to my collection. The Matzah Man is hilarious. At the end of the book is a glossary of terms used during Passover. Even though my boys are getting older, they still love reading picture books. I can't wait to read this one to them, especially for the Passover aspect. The other book is the basic retelling of the story, but the illustrations by Barbara McClintock were so amazing that I wanted to get it as well. Fun books. Maybe some day I will take a picture of all the books in my collection that relate to this famous story. I'm starting to have quite a few.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New-Old Music

I realized not too long ago that I hadn't bought many new CDs lately. It seems I always get an iTunes gift card for Christmas or my birthday, so most of the new music I buy is digital. That isn't a bad thing, although I still love having an actual CD for some weird reason. You know how much I love going to the thrift store. I usually look at the music, but very rarely do I find anything. The other day I found these two CDs above. They're extremely different from one another. Air Supply is an Australian band that did a lot of love ballads. Audio Adrenaline is a Christian rock band that I like a lot. I realized I didn't have any music by Air Supply, so I decided to get it. I spent $2 on both CDs. That's pretty good when you consider there are 35 songs between them. You can't buy 35 songs on iTunes for two bucks!

Then today I ran back into the store to pick up a game I saw the other day when I was with Neil. We already had the game, but we're missing a bunch of pieces in ours. It was the Don't Break The Ice game. Anyway, I saw it there the other day but didn't buy it. I decided to get it today, especially since it was only 75-cents and it had all the pieces I needed to complete my set. As I was walking out I looked at the CDs again, and it looked like they had gotten a bunch of new ones in since the last time I was there. So, I grabbed the ones above. I have some songs by REM, Pearl Jam, and Yes, but I didn't have these particular albums. I am not familiar with Norah Jones at all, but figured I'd give her a listen. After all, thirteen songs for a buck is worth a listen, right? I was really excited about the South African Legends CD. That's definitely not something I'd probably buy in a store, but I do have a lot of international music, so I was happy to add it.

CDs are a dollar each at the thrift store I go to. So, that's not too shabby. I certainly could NOT have gotten 91 songs on iTunes for $7!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Vintage Book Finds

Yesterday Neil and I wandered around the local Salvation Army thrift store for awhile. We found a bunch of great books—even though I was just there a few days earlier and found a bunch of great books then. The first one that caught my eye was Donkey-donkey by Roger Duvoisin. The cover didn't look familiar at first, but then I opened it. WOW! I know this book! This was one of the books I loved as a kid. I'm pretty sure I got it from a book club. As I flipped through the pages, I realized the illustrations were practically embedded in my mind. Did you ever have a book you loved as a child that you read and studied over and over? This was one of those books. It was originally published in 1940, but the copy I have reads 1968. Oddly, on Amazon I see some "new" copies of the 1968 book starting at $27.00. Then there are 2007 editions that are listed as much as $87.88. Weird. All I know is that I had this book when I was younger and LOVED it. Sadly, there are 4 pages torn out, but it was still worth buying. When I tagged it on Instagram, I saw another person had found this book at a yard sale, but was disappointed that ALL of the pages were missing. She still bought it for the cover. It's that neat.

When I came across the book above—The Cat and the Fiddler—I was taken back again. I'm pretty sure this was also from the book club I belonged to one summer. I don't know for certain if I had this particular book, but I am family with the illustrator, Lionel Kalish. He published my all-time favorite picture book as a child, which was The Sheep of the Lal Bagh. I recognized his work as soon as I picked this book up. His illustrations are incredible. If you've never seen these books, I highly recommend you get copies of them.